Health Insurance Rate Watch Project

OSPIRG Foundation’s Health Insurance Rate Watch Project is conducting in-depth analysis of insurers' rate hike requests, sharing our findings with state officials and the general public, and encouraging the public to participate in Oregon’s rate review process.

Scrutinizing Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Oregonians have reached a breaking point on health care costs: At the current rate, the cost of covering the average Oregon family could rise to more than $21,000 a year by 2019. [1] At the same time, studies show that a third or more of every dollar we spend on health care is wasted on something that does not improve our health. [2]

Health insurance companies could be lowering costs by cutting administrative bloat, driving a hard bargain with hospitals on prices, paying doctors to keep people healthy rather than to order expensive treatments, and passing on those savings to customers. But too often, they just keep raising rates on their customers without doing these things. [3]

Thankfully, state officials, led by the Oregon Insurance Division, have significantly stepped up their scrutiny of health insurers’ rate hike requests. Since 2010, it made cuts to a majority of requests, cutting over $179 million in waste. [4] Highlights include:

  • Regence BlueCross BlueShield (2011): $12.5 million in waste cut, over $200 per person, when the state knocked back a 22% proposed increase nearly in half.
     
  • Providence (2013): $17.9 million in waste cut when the state trimmed back proposed rates by over 20%.

OSPIRG Foundation’s Health Insurance Rate Watch Project is doing our part by conducting in-depth analysis of insurers' rate hike requests, sharing our findings with state officials and the general public, and encouraging the public to participate in Oregon’s rate review process.

Our work is supported in part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and from a grant of federal funds by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The project is supported by Grant Number IPRPR0057A from Department of Health and Human Services Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CCIIO.

Learn more about Oregon's rate review process--and sign up to get notified about major rate proposals--at the Oregon Insurance Division's consumer-friendly website, www.oregonhealthrates.org

Our project is guided by an Advisory Board of community leaders and experts, including:

  • Jerry Cohen of AARP-Oregon
  • Jim Houser of Hawthorne Auto Clinic.

[1] For employer coverage, based on 2009-2014 trends. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2014 Summary of Findings

[2] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Feb. 2011, The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes: infographic and report.

[3] For some real-life examples of cutting waste out of health care, see Atul Gawande's "Overkill," The New Yorker, May 2015.

[4] OSPIRG Foundation, September 2014, Accountability in Action.

Issue updates

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's proposal to increase small group health insurance rates

Most of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s almost 17,000 small group members, from over 1,300 small businesses across Oregon, will see rate increases of 11.8% on average, and as high as 19.2%, if the premium rate hike proposed by United is approved.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Health Net’s individual members will see an increase of 8.3% on average, ranging as high as 10% for some customers, if the premium rate hike proposed by the insurer is approved.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Health Care

Looking for health coverage that won’t break the bank? Get the facts about the health premium tax credit | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

Life without health insurance can be more expensive. Knowing the facts and learning about all of your options can make all the difference when it comes to getting the coverage you need. One option we want to make sure everyone knows about is the new Health Premium Tax Credit.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Consumer Tips: Keep Your Health Plan or Switch for 2014?

OSPIRG offers top tips and a checklist to help consumers weigh their options.

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Report | OSPIRG | Health Care

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Tips for consumers deciding whether to keep their individual health insurance plan or switch to a new plan for 2014.

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Pages

Media Hit | Health Care

Oregon Eyes Insurance Rate Increase

SALEM, Ore. - Customers of one of Oregon's largest health insurance companies may see a large rate increase soon. State insurance regulators held a rare public hearing Wednesday on the request by ODS Health Plan to hike its rates an average of 10 percent.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Testing a new reflex on health care

Earlier this year, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon found itself under a powerful spotlight. At a public hearing -- the first such hearing in more than two decades -- Regence had to justify its 22.1 percent rate increase request to state regulators, as well as to the more than 150 Oregonians in attendance.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Does Your State Even Care What You Pay for Health Insurance?

After watching health insurance rates balloon in the last several years, you might wonder who has the consumer's back. States are largely responsible for overseeing how much health insurance companies charge for coverage, but they're all over the map in terms of how hard they scrutinize proposed premiums.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Health insurance premiums

Oregon health insurers are having a harder time raising premiums now than they have in the past.

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Media Hit | Health Care

An insurance regulator's 'aha' moment

Teresa Miller was dubious. What value could a public hearing add to the state of Oregon's highly technical review of a Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon's rate increase request?

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Pages

Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Small Business Rate Hike Proposal

We are concerned that Regence BlueCross BlueShield (Regence) has not adequately justified its proposal for a rate increase impacting 47,806 Oregonians with coverage through a small business employer.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Making the Grade

By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on ODS Health Plan's Proposal to Increase Rates 9.94%

ODS Health Plan (ODS) is proposing to raise rates an average of 9.94%, impacting 26,333 Oregon consumers and families with individual plans, effective November 1, 2011. The nearly 10% rate increase comes after two back-to-back years of increases exceeding 17%. If approved, the average rate will have increased 52% for individual policyholders over the last three years.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Increase Rates 22%

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon (Regence) is proposing to raise rates an average of 22.1% on individual plans. These are plans for people who do not have employer-based coverage. If approved, this rate increase will impact 59,477 Oregonians effective August 1, 2011.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Regence Proposal to Raise Small Businesses Rates

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield (Regence) is proposing a rate increase on small business plans, with an average increase of 10.8%, impacting 54,299 Oregonians, effective July 1, 2011.

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